The recent signing of amendments to the South Pacific Tuna Treaty by diplomats from the United States and the 16 Pacific Islands at Novotel Hotel in Nadi has been hailed a success.
The amendments and a Memorandum of Understanding, also signed in Nadi on Sunday, the changes, including new financial arrangements, to take effect from January 1, 2017.
Head of the Solomon Islands Government delegation at this year’s WCPFC 13 Regular Annual Session and Under Secretary of the Ministry of Fisheries and Marine Resources Mr. Ferral Lasi hailed the signing of the US Treaty as a success for the Pacific Islands.
In 2017 the overall package could be worth as much as US70m if the fleet takes up all its available opportunities. The aid component received from the US government will increase from USD$18 million per year to USD$21 million.
Mr Lasi said Solomon Islands and other Pacific Islands will receive more benefits under the new treaty.
The head of the Solomon Islands delegation who has initialled the changes said the documents will be signed by the Minister of Fisheries and Marine Resources after they have been endorsed by Solomon Islands Cabinet.
Negotiations for the amendments were concluded successfully in July this year after 7 years of talks. The new financial arrangements will expire in 2023.
The agreement establishes more flexible procedures for commercial cooperation between U.S. industry and Pacific Islands Parties.
The outcome reflects strong cooperation between the Parties to the Treaty and relevant stakeholders, and a mutual commitment to the broader positive relationship between the United States and the Pacific Island region.
The South Pacific Tuna Treaty (Multilateral Treaty on Fisheries) entered into force in 1988. The Treaty has been under renegotiation since 2009. The U.S. delegation to the 18th Renegotiation Session included officials from the Department of State, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, American Samoa, and the U.S. fishing industry.
The revised Treaty sets the operational terms and conditions for the U.S. tuna purse seine fleet to fish in waters under the jurisdiction of the Pacific Island Parties, which cover a wide swath of the Western and Central Pacific Ocean.
The Western and Central Pacific Ocean contains the largest and most valuable tuna fisheries in the world.
Many Pacific Island Parties depend on fisheries as one of their most important natural resources.
The United States has for decades sought to be a valued partner in developing regional fisheries.
The U.S. purse seine fleet operates according to the highest commercial standards and is subject to strict enforcement by U.S. authorities, the US government said.
The Treaty has supported U.S. contributions to sound sustainable fishery management and efforts to combat illegal, unreported, and unregulated fishing.
Ambassador to Fiji Judith Cefkin who signed the amendments on behalf of the US said the treaty is a cornerstone for cooperation between the Pacific Islands and the United States, and has helped establish best practices for fisheries management in the region.